Sonex Aircraft President and founder John Monnett retired June 2 from the kitplane manufacturing company that bills itself as “the sport aircraft reality check.”
Monnett’s departure from daily operations at Oshkosh, Wisconsin-based Sonex comes as the company he launched in 1998 is seeking potential investors or buyers—an initiative undertaken “while business continues strong,” said a Sonex news release posted online.
In the announcement, Monnett, whose son Jeremy died in a 2015 crash while serving as Sonex’s CEO, explored various forms of ownership of Sonex in the future, inviting offers “from qualified individuals and/or companies who are interested in continuing the successful heritage of Sonex Aircraft into the next generation, or in assisting Sonex Aircraft with transition to an employee-ownership succession plan.”
Sonex General Manager Mark Schaible assured the company’s customers that Sonex Aircraft was "going strong” and "in the midst of its most successful period in recent years,” with a full order book that includes several SubSonex Personal Jet Quick Build Kits and other commitments for traditional kits and sub-kits. Sonex is also under contract with Navmar Applied Sciences Corporation (NASC) to construct two Teros unmanned aircraft for government and civilian customers in 2018, he said.
Monnett, who has participated in the kit aircraft industry since 1968, began his aircraft-design career when he was a young school teacher by building a highly modified Midget Mustang project. He met the legendary aircraft designer, Steve Wittman, and their friendship led to the development of Monnett’s first aircraft design, a Formula Vee racer, Sonerai 1.
Many designs followed including “the Monerai sailplane, Moni motorglider, the world-record-holding Monex racer and the complete line of Sonex Aircraft models.”
In 2016, Sonex brought two 250-knot single-engine JSX-2 jets to the Sun 'n Fun international Fly-In and Expo, telling AOPA, “It’s time to put the jet in the hands of more pilots. An aerobatic jet is every pilot’s dream.”
Monnett is an inductee of the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Homebuilders Hall of Fame; a two-time winner of the Dr. August Raspet Memorial Award; and a recipient of the EAA Freedom of Flight Award, the Society of Experimental Test Pilots Spirit of Flight Award, the Oshkosh Wisconsin Key to the City award, and other honors.
In addition to playing a leading role in the experimental kit aircraft industry, Sonex Aircraft offers the AeroConversions line of products, including the AeroVee engine, AeroVee Turbo, AeroInjector, and ancillary aviation products.
The company continues to invest heavily in developing new products aimed at providing low-cost solutions to sport flying, the announcement said.